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Month: February 2012

Cops find stolen property, say more arrests on the way

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes 

Keizer Police found a cache of stolen property in the 3600 block of Brooks Avenue NE, arrested one man and detained five more.

Officers served a search warrant on the home at about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, February 28 investigating burglaries committed earlier in the day. Five people were temporarily detained, while a 16-year-old boy was arrested on a probation violation.

Sgt. Trevor Wenning of Keizer Police said numerous stolen items were found from burglaries in Salem, Keizer and Marion County. He said more arrests are expected.

The juvenile, a Keizer resident, was arrested for theft by receiving and probation violation.

Celtics’ theater insider takes final curtain call

KEIZERTIMES

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School lost a faithful ally last week with the passing of Dan Hays.

Hays, 67, succumbed to failing health Sunday, Feb. 19, but his impact on a generation of McNary High School students was indelible.

Hays worked with Celtic drama students for more than 14 years, he was known as the theater department’s dramaturge, providing research and printed materials for the department, and directed the school’s Shakespearean efforts for a number of years.

“He directed, he provided a historical and a literary context for every McNary production, he wrote press releases. He would come in and spend the day with kids in class. He was essentially a second instructor with a huge amount of experience,” said Linda Baker, the former director of the McNary theater program.

Hays grew up in Medford and attended Southern Oregon University where he became a protege of Angus Bowmer, the founder of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Baker said he was offered a position that would have led to him directing at the festival but turned it down to pursue acting.

“He traveled and acted spending time in Scotland. He went on to earn two master’s degrees from the University of Oregon and finally landed in Salem,” Baker said.

In addition to reviewing books for the local daily newspaper, Hays became deeply entrenched in the local theater community.

“Dan would say life is art and theater is life. He loved the community of theater and the potential for theater to deliver a message,” Baker said.

Baker enlisted him early along with McNary technical director Terry Rohse to help produce William Shakespeare’s works at McNary.

“We had adults from Rohse’s Windrider Productions would come in and play the adult roles and McNary students would play the younger roles. Dan just stayed and he was wonderful,” Baker said.

Baker described Hays as “a man of towering intellect with a deep love of language.” Work in the theater department morphed into a role as a mentor for students struggling or looking to excel at the written word.

“There were few 20th Century authors Dan didn’t have a direct connection with. The kids would write papers for class and he would review them and occasionally he would put them in direct contact with the authors themselves,” Baker said.

In recent years, he volunteered as a reader for McNary’s English department. Hays would read through submitted work and offer guidance for clarifying thoughts or structure.

There were times when he and Baker disputed the stage directions or other aspects of McNary performances, but even those often led to moments of tremendous levity.

“The was one time when we were going at it hammer and tongs during rehearsals and we’d be hollering at each other and the kids were rolling their eyes. Finally, I just looked back at him one day and told him ‘Dan, we have to stop arguing in front of the children,’” Baker said.

At times his quiet and commanding presence felt like a barrier between him and students, but as soon as they discovered his large heart, Hays formed strong bonds.

“He was a shy man and it made him nervous. The kids were just all energy and physical and he’s all intellect, but they met at the heart,” Baker said.

In an outpouring of comments to Baker’s Facebook announcement of Hays’s passing, former student Anthony Hudson offered the following: “Today’s been Dan Day in my house. I think a candle and some Shakespeare is going to have to happen before bed.”

An open house to celebrate Hays’s life will be held Saturday, March 3 from 4-7 p.m. For more details, check Dan Hays’s Facebook page.

Transit center will be green all over

The planned transit center in Keizer includes numerous features aimed at reducing energy consumption and water runoff. Construction starts later this year. (Courtesy PIVOT Architecture)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A planned transit center in Keizer will be heavy on sustainable features so that, hopefully, the energy bill will be light on the wallet.

Salem-Keizer Transit hosted an open house Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Keizer Chamber of Commerce headquarters at Keizer Station. About $9.6 million in various funds, almost all state and federal grants, are paying for the project. The building itself is about 2,600 square feet.

“We’re excited for this,” said Steve Dickey, the district’s director of transportation development. “We’re looking forward to it being the flagship and we’re excited to be in Keizer.”

The Keizer center will be the first of what will eventually be four transit substations, he said.

It could open as early as the first quarter of 2013, officials said, with groundbreaking in July 2012.

The location, between Lockhaven Drive NE and Keizer Station Boulevard, couldn’t be better for what the district is seeking, said Chad Fosnight, capital projects manager.

“It has accessibility with close proximity to Interstate 5 and rail for potential commuter rail in the future, and Keizer Station,” Fosnight said.

Dickey said the new center fits into the new service model implemented in recent years. With a focus on combining modes of transportation, including transit, walking, bicycling and cars via a park-and-ride on site, Dickey said the center would serve as a nice place to feel safe and comfortable mid-trip.

It will also reduce trips to downtown Salem for riders seeking to go elsewhere in Salem-Keizer, he added.

Routes 4 (express to downtown), 15 (to Chemeketa Community College), 18 (Keizer circulator) and 19 (Lockhaven and River Road to downtown) all will see significant service improvements once the center is complete, Dickey said.

One possible drawback, at least at first, will be that cars will only be able to enter and exit one way in and out of the center – right off of and onto Keizer Station Boulevard.

Fosnight said the cost of a stoplight at the intersection was too high, but could be installed in the future as the surrounding area develops.

Environmentally-friendly features include:

• A green roof. Plants atop the building will absorb water, reducing stormwater runoff during rains, staff said.

“There’s a lot of hard surfaces on this site, and stormwater management was a concern from the start,” Fosnight said.

• Solar panels.

• Electric vehicle charging stations.

• A ground-source heat pump that will hopefully lessen energy costs, Fosnight said.

Allan Pollock, SKT’s general manager, said educational placards will explain the environmentally-friendly aspects of the facility.

“Teachers can bring kids on the bus to learn about sustainability at the center,” Pollock said.

Police nab two suspected of burglary

Two would-be burglars were arrested after trying to break into an adult foster home around midday Tuesday.

The suspects, a Keizer man and a 15-year-old Salem boy, may also have been involved in a burglary on Linda Avenue earlier in the day, said Keizer Police Sgt. Andrew Copeland.

Police arrested the two after a call from a home in the 4000 block of Arnold Street NE. The caller, who operates an adult foster home out of her house, described seeing a juvenile opening her back sliding glass door at about 11:40 a.m. She had gone into the room to see why her dog was barking, she told authorities.

The suspect fled after seeing her, she reported, met up with another person and left the area on foot.

They were spotted shortly thereafter in the 4000 block of Gary Street by Ofc. Kevin DeMarco, and arrested without further incident.

Arrested was Nicholas Stehlin, 19, of Keizer on several counts, including attempted burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary.

The 15-year-old Salem boy faces counts of burglary, attempted burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary.

BURNING QUESTIONS: Fired up about annexation? Here’s what you need to know.

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

By ERIC A. HOWALD
and JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Local voters will be asked on March 13 whether to annex the Clear Lake neighborhood into Keizer Fire District via Measures 24-325 and 24-326. Emergency services in the neighborhood are currently provided by Marion County Fire District No. 1.

While keeping in mind some of the issues presented are likely to be solved in court, here’s answers to many of the common inquiries we’ve heard about the election.


What will my property tax rate be if these pass?

Currently residents in Clear Lake pay taxes and bonds of Marion County Fire District No. 1 (MCFD1), while the rest of the city of Keizer pays taxes and bonds to Keizer Fire District (KFD).

If the measures pass, those inside the Clear Lake are will pay taxes assessed at the lower Keizer Fire District rate and a cheaper KFD local option levy – a savings of about $90 per annum based on an assessed value of $250,000 – the average home value in the area.

If you live outside the Clear Lake area, your tax rate will not change.

Who will pay which bonds?

State law says that while territory withdrawn from a particular taxing district no longer pays taxes to it, the property owners are responsible for any bond debt issued before the measure passed.

Both fire districts have outstanding bonds. Marion County’s is 35 cents, while Keizer Fire is 14 cents. According to an explanatory statement from the city of Keizer, Clear Lake residents will keep paying the 35 cents from Marion County, but not existing bond debt from Keizer Fire District. The remainder of the city would keep paying the Keizer Fire bond debt.

It is still unclear precisely how much of the MCFD1 bond debt Clear Lake residents will be responsible for. The MCFD1 Fire board has issued its entire $10 million bond debt, but only $5 million had been issued at the time the City of Keizer officially withdrew Clear Lake from the protection of MCFD1. Attorneys for Keizer Fire District contend that the withdrawal shields Clear Lake residents from liability for the second $5 million, but MCFD1 officials say the matter is still under dispute. Like some other questions, a final determination will likely be made in the courts.

Clear Lake property owners would be responsible for paying their share of any future KFD bond debt, just like other residents within Keizer Fire’s territory.

Where is Clear Lake?

Residents north of Parkmeadow Drive NE between Wheatland Road NE and River Road NE are the properties proposed for annexation into the Keizer Fire District. West of Wheatland Road, homes north of Hazelbrook Drive N. (and its cul-de-sacs) are part of Clear Lake for purposes of this election.

What happens if the measures fail?

Nothing. Services will continue as already established. And in the unlikely event one passes and one fails, nothing happens.

Leadership at Keizer Fire District has said the battle is over if they lose the election.

How many ambulances serve Keizer now, and how many would if the measures pass?

Currently Keizer is served by three ambulances during the day and two at night. Both fire districts have one 24-hour ambulance each at their stations in Keizer. Keizer Fire District operates a second ambulance during the day.

If the measures are approved, MCFD1 would no longer operate an ambulance in Keizer. KFD intends to staff two 24-hour ambulances, one of which would be at the Clear Lake station.

Keizer Fire District draws a distinction between how the two agencies’ ambulances are staffed. KFD uses two career paramedics on each run, while MCFD allows qualified students to man ambulances along with a paramedic.

Service at night would remain unchanged.

How many jobs will be affected?

If the measure passes, MCFD1 Chief J. Kevin Henson has said his district would have to lay off as many as six full-time personnel. Keizer Fire has said they will hire three additional full-time staff if the measure is passed, and will recruit more volunteers to staff the Clear Lake station.

According to KFD union officials, laid-off staff from MCFD would be the first considered for new positions.

What happens to the Clear Lake station, and the property in it?

Under state law, both fire districts must agree to a plan distributing all assets of Clear Lake’s station within 90 days of the territory being withdrawn from MCFD. All indications are MCFD will not agree to any distribution plan that involves losing equipment or property, which means the two districts go to arbitration. That result can be appealed.

State statutes add that any asset division plan may in no case cause the remainder of the fire district to have a less favorable fire insurance (ISO) grade than the district had at time of withdrawal.

Why does a majority of the city council support Keizer Fire?

Votes on this issue have passed 6-1, with Councilor David McKane in opposition.

The mayor and supporting city councilors have cited several reasons. Mayor Lore Christopher has cited loss of confidence in leadership at MCFD, citing “reckless and frightening” actions by the district. Some, like Councilors Brandon Smith and Cathy Clark, believe it just makes sense for one fire district to serve the city.

“Given the questions that have been raised during the debates, it is clear to me that the taxpayers are savvy consumers and should make a decision about which service they choose to purchase with their tax dollars,” Clark said.

McKane asserts the city failed to take responsibility for how the remainder of MCFD’s territory could be adversely affected, and isn’t convinced the move will make Keizer safer and could possibly reduce current service levels.

And some openly question why MCFD has been invited, but not participated in, emergency planning and drills in the city of Keizer. Henson denies having been invited.

The city staff has done no analysis of how Keizer would be better served by KFD instead of MCFD.

What is Keizer Fire’s plan for staffing the Clear Lake station?

KFD’s Chief Cowan says an engine with a full crew and an ambulance — staffed with two paramedics as opposed to MCFD1’s one paramedic/one qualified student ratio — would be housed at Clear Lake. Cowan says KFD is ready to take over operations with a phone call.


Read the Keizer city councilors’ comments on the annexation measures.

Couple honored for keeping local history thriving

KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The transformation of the old Keizer School building into a community center was just the beginning.

A community-wide effort to save the local landmark was critical. So was a match of urban renewal dollars and a cheap place to put the building when all was said and done.

Al and Anne Rasmus got involved on the ground floor. Anne volunteered in the city manager’s office and they lived across the street from Les Zaitz, a Keizertimes publisher who helped raise $250,000 in 90 days to spare the Keizer School from the bulldozer.

Al had recently retired after selling his title business, and at age 52 was looking for something to do. Anne had been in engineering and was volunteering in her own right.

“I’m the second of 12 children,” Anne said. “I’ve been busy all my life. It was an opportunity to learn, to work with the community.”

Al drafted a business plan and Anne helped with the fundraising effort. Soon enough the money was raised, the building moved and restored.

“If there hadn’t been the plan, we wouldn’t have this (building),” said JoAnne Beilke, a former Keizer Heritage Foundation president and its current strategic planner. “He pulled together a plan that was workable for the fundraisers to get behind.”

But once the fanfare died down, someone had to run the thing. Al and Anne have never accepted a dime to ensure the Keizer Heritage Center was something the community could all be proud of.

The results are evident. It gave a home to some of Keizer’s long-standing and fledgling cultural organizations, like the Keizer Art Association and the Reading Connection (now the Keizer Community Library). It gave rise to the Heritage Museum, where monthly exhibits entertain and offer insight into our history.

Beilke said it all goes back to Al’s original plan, which included leasing space to nonprofits and using an upstairs room for rentals to keep the building looking fresh.

Thanks to their efforts keeping the facility booked for everything from weddings to community forums, the rent charged to those organizations is nominal. And taxpayers haven’t contributed a dime to the building in more than a decade.

“They are passionate, resilient, and humble while they tend to the our town’s oldest public building,” said Keizer Chamber of Commerce President Rich Duncan, who presented the Chamber President’s Award to Al and Anne at the chamber banquet Saturday night.

Duncan has had a chance to see their handiwork up close and personal. He was the foreman on the restoration project, and the chamber was in the building for many years until its recent relocation to Keizer Station.

“The time and commitment to that building – there’s hundreds of hours,” he said.

Public rallies around honoring Keizer educators with new school name

Salvador Reyes (KEIZERTIMES/File Photo)

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Audience comments on naming the two new elementary schools in the Salem-Keizer School District took up much of the time of Tuesday night’s School Board meeting.

Neither school under construction is in or near Keizer, but a few Keizer residents spoke. A district oversight subcommittee has recommended Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School for the one in East Salem and Battle Creek Elementary School for the one in South Salem, and the board approved first reading of the proposal. Action is scheduled for the board’s February meeting.

Without specifying which school should get which name, most speakers favored naming them after Salvador Reyes and Cathy Mink. Reyes, who moved with his family from Mexico to Salem, did volunteer work for the district in several capacities, including coaching soccer at McNary High School, and worked with the Keizer Soccer Club. Mink was a longtime teacher and principal in the district.

A few spoke in favor of the committee’s recommendations. Terry Murphy, Rosanna Reyes and Melinda Culwell, all of Keizer, favored Reyes and Mink, preferring names from school system history to names for a national figure who was not specifically associated with this area and for a geographic feature. Matt Faatz of Keizer spoke for the Reyes name but did not mention Mink.

Mary Paulson, school district chief of staff, said the committee, after receiving more than 550 nominations of more than 100 names, felt “very strongly” that it should not favor some former district employees over others.

Director Ron Jones said he would support the subcommittee’s recommendations. Director Chris Brantley said that the arguments he had just heard presented “an interesting dilemma” and that he tended to agree with the subcommittee.  Director Chuck Lee, whose region includes Keizer, was absent.

In other business, the board:

• Voted to support state Senate Bill 1581, which would create achievement compacts between educational entities and the Oregon Education Investment Board. The compacts would set goals for education and report results.

• Approved funding of special programs from the Willamette Education Service District, to be in effect for the district until it officially withdraws from the WESD.

• Approved personnel actions, including the retirement of Gayle Carrier as a librarian at Cummings Elementary School.

Sustainability summit set for March 12

Registration is now open for the Salem-Keizer Sustainability Summit, set for March 12  at the Salem Conference Center.

Featured speakers are Secretary of State Kate Brown and Dave Dahl, owner of Dave’s Killer Bread Co., who will talk about his company’s purchase of wind power for its facilities and other green efforts.

Area residents and businesses are invited to attend.  Registration for event attendees and exhibitors can be completed online at www.sustainabilitysummit.info.  Registration for the full day summit is $45 and includes the choice of a variety of break-out session topics. Attendees can also explore nearly two dozen exhibitor booths and peruse the Green Transport Show featuring alternative fuel bicycles, cars, and buses.

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. and the event will conclude at 1:30 p.m. with an optional tour of the Salem Conference Center’s green initiatives, including their kitchen.  Registration for the lunch and key-note speaker is $20.  EarthWISE certified businesses will receive a $10 discount on registration.

Backed by Keizer teen, curb on funeral protests nearly law

Ryan Ripp (KEIZERTIMES/File Photo)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Seeing protests at military funerals was too much to take for a Keizer teen.

Now Ryan Ripp’s idea is nearly law.

Senate Bill 1575 has gotten approval from both chambers of the Oregon Legislature and awaits Gov. John Kitzhaber’s signature. A representative from the governor’s office said he intends to sign.

It makes it a crime to fight, make threats or unreasonable noise or obstruct traffic within 200 feet of a funeral. The bill is in response to protests staged by Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church whose members regularly carry anti-gay signs and messages to funerals of U.S. soldiers.

“I’m really happy that it’s finally a law, that Oregon’s finally protected,” Ripp said upon hearing the bill cleared the house with nearly unanimous consent.

In order to be charged with disorderly conduct, in this case a Class A misdemeanor – a maximum fine of $6,250 and up to a year in jail – the person must know a funeral is taking place. Normally disorderly conduct is a Class D misdemeanor.

Legislation with similar intent failed in 2011, in part because of a section some said could impede free speech.

Removing that was the difference maker for Rep. Jules Bailey, D–Portland, who opposed last session’s bill. He noted the changes in his remarks on the House floor Tuesday.

Rep. Jim Weidner said the legislation protects mourners from outside agitators.

Ripp, a McNary High School junior, was outraged after he learned about the issue watching Channel One News, a news show for teens aired at high schools across the country.

“It made me sick to see on TV what it was doing to people in other states,” he said.

Richard Walsh, a former Keizer city councilor, advised him to research similar laws in other states. Ripp attended work sessions to learn about the process and testified at a legislative committee when a similar bill was before the legislature in 2011. He also sought help from Rep. Kim Thatcher, R – Keizer.

Ripp, a grandson of two military veterans, plans to enlist, and is applying to all five U.S. military academies. And after this experience, he wants to go into politics.

Saxon upset puts Lady Celts in third headed to playoffs

Deven Hunter puts up a shot during the South Salem game last week. The Saxons escaped with a win in the teams’ third meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School girls varsity basketball team discovered just how hard it is to beat a team three times in a season last week.

The Lady Celts fell to the South Salem High School Saxons 48-43 in the teams’ second meeting in less than a week.

The loss set up the team to play for third place in the Central Valley Conference Tournament against McKay High School, Tuesday Feb. 21. McNary won that contest 60-43.

After an early McKay lead, McNary surged past the Royal Scots in the first quarter. McKay never threatened again. Celt Deven Hunter poured in 30 points on the night. Averi Wing put in 10 points, Teresa Peterson and Jessica Darras had four points each, Ashlee Koenig and Menley Neitzel had three points apiece, Caitlyn Tartak, Lauren Hudgins and Stacey Titchenal had two points apiece.

Despite the loss, McNary’s game with South was a thriller. A week earlier, the teams were neck-and-neck in the last six seconds when the Celts put in the go-ahead basket at the buzzer. That outcome had Molly Gehley, McNary head coach, anticipating a tough rematch.

“We expected a tough game going in that would be down to the wire,” Gehley said.

Both teams stumbled out of the block with nearly three minutes of scoreless play. The Saxons struck first on a lay-in, but Hunter tied it up on the swing back down the court. South led 9-5 in the waning minutes of the first quarter when Peterson hit a three-pointer to make it 9-8. A three-point goal by Baili Keeton with 35 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter closed South’s lead to 13-11.

Keeton tied the game on a lay-in shortly after the beginning of the second quarter. Hudgins put the Celtics on top 15-13 by grabbing a rebound and putting in the basket, but South shot back past the Celtics with a three-point goal.

McNary trailed much of the quarter, but a two-pointer by Darras and a second three-pointer by Peterson allowed the Celtics to finish with a 20-18 lead at the half.

It was South’s turn to tie up the game early in the second half, but a three-pointer by Titchenal kept McNary in control. The teams traded leads a number of times in the quarter, but South emerged with the 32-29 lead at the buzzer.

The fourth quarter proved to be the Celts most troubling.

“We had problems getting the ball to go in the second half especially and that really hurt us down the stretch,” Gehley said.

Wing briefly put the Celtics back ahead of the Saxons, but South went on a 14-6 tear that McNary never recovered from. Most of the Celts’ remaining points were made from the foul line.

“I thought our girls battled hard, but [South’s] defense was very good,” Gehley said.

Hunter and Peterson led the team with 14 points each, Keeton had six, Titchenal put in three and Wing, Darras and Hudgins had two apiece.